Key West Seawall Overflow

The new flood maps

» Did your flood zone change?

» What's the time line?

» What should I do now?

» Where can I get more information?

Womankind Intersection

Flood insurance options

» Do I need to buy insurance now?

» How much will insurance cost?

» Isn't my home "grandfathered"?

» What's the 50 percent rule?

FEMA's 90-day Appeal Period March 18-June 17, 2021

Let FIRM help you understand the new flood maps and insurance requirements

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For those who prefer a hard copy of FIRM's guide to the new maps and insurance.

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Flood Map Meetings

There are no upcoming events at this time.

Frequently asked questions

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Why and how should I prepare for new flood maps?

DID YOU KNOW: The Rand Corporation estimates that for every $500 increase in flood insurance premiums, property values decrease $10,000. FIRM and local governments throughout the Keys are confident their reviews, comments and concerns about the Draft Working Maps will be reflected – at least in part – in the Preliminary Maps and, eventually, in the Final Maps. However, it is clear from the Draft Working Maps most properties in the Keys will move into new flood zones and most will see increases in their flood insurance requirements and premiums. For example: Under existing maps, Key West includes a significant X-Zone, which does not require flood insurance for homes with mortgages. An estimated 2,000 properties that are today in Key West’s X-Zone likely will be moved to a Special Flood Hazard Area, resulting in the requirement of flood insurance for homes with mortgages. Because flood insurance can range from below $500 annually for a home in an X-Zone to tens of thousands of dollars in higher-risk zones, it makes sense to prepare now to mitigate upcoming flood map effects. What should I do now? Determine your current and future flood zone. Monroe County has made the maps available for viewing online at http://www.monroecounty-fl.gov/floodmaps, so property owners can see potential changes to the flood zones in which they live. The City of Key West has also provided draft flood maps and other data online at “Draft” Flood Maps. https://cityofkeywest.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=50f9b29e6a5841bb97dea7cd69e68c05 Determine your base flood elevation (BFE) The Base Flood Elevation (BFE) where your property is located determines the zone to which you are assigned. Having an elevation certificate for your home is crucial to ensuring your flood insurance rate and the premiums you pay are correct. Get an Elevation Certificate Your elevation certificate may be on line in the City of Key West Floodplain Dept. or with your local floodplain management office in Monroe County or the municipalities. The contact information for all floodplain officials can be found on the County’s website. You might also find your certificate in your mortgage closing documents. If you do not have or cannot locate an elevation certificate, you may contract locally to have one done. The cost is about $500. If you join FIRM and contribute $100 or more, you will receive a $100 credit toward a residential elevation certificate from Reece & Associates in Big Pine Key. A donation of $500 or more earns a discount toward a commercial elevation certificate from one of our trusted partners. Please contact FIRM for additional at info@firmkeys.org

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Flood map resources: Where to find YOUR map and more

 Key West Maps o  City of Key West Draft Flood Maps and how to read them: https://www.cityofkeywest-fl.gov/topic/subtopic.php?topicid=224&structureid=1 o  Best City of Key West map tool for changes in flood zone. Explore by address: https://cityofkeywest.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=50f9b29e6a5841bb97dea7cd69e68c05 Monroe County Maps o  Best Monroe County map tool for changes in flood zone. Explore by address: http://monroecounty-fl.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=791f993777cf483b90efbcfe2d59b615 o   National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 and the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973: https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/20130726-1545-20490-9247/frm_acts.pdf o  FEMA Flood Map Service Center FAQs: https://msc.fema.gov/portal/resources/faq o  What is the FEMA National Flood Insurance Program: https://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program o  Consumer-friendly National Flood Insurance Program: https://www.floodsmart.gov/ o  Understanding Base Flood Elevation: https://www.fema.gov/base-flood-elevation# o   Understanding grandfathering: https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1488482596393-dcc52e6c120c9327dcd75f1c08e802e4/GrandfatheringForAgents_03_2016.pdf o  How to lower my flood insurance costs: https://www.floodsmart.gov/costs/how-can-i-pay-less-for-my-flood-insurance o  Understanding why my elevation is higher even if my house didn’t move: https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/20130726-1755-25045-0634/ngvd_navd.pdf o  All about flood maps. Monroe County’s Preliminary Maps: Understanding what’s happening: https://www.floodsmart.gov/why/all-about-flood-maps

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What’s the status and timeline of new flood maps?

In August 2019, FEMA released the Draft Working Maps, which indicate significant flood zone changes in the Florida Keys and, if left unchanged, likely will result in higher insurance rates throughout the county and the incorporated cities. Local governments and Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe (FIRM) have reviewed the Draft Working Maps and have filed comments with FEMA. Those comments include errors and inconsistencies found in the data. The Draft Working Maps indicate generally higher base flood elevations (BFE) and significant numbers of properties moving from low- or no-risk zones into higher risk flood zones. Those changes would, if left unchallenged, likely result in significantly higher flood insurance rates. FIRM is working through its consultant, Ransom Consulting. The county has its own consultant, The Woods Hole Group. These consultants are experienced with the flood map appeals process and are reviewing the processes and data used by FEMA to create the Draft Working Maps. What’s the timeline? August 2019: Draft Working Maps released: After the August 2019 meetings, FEMA sent the county and Key West hard drives with the data behind the draft maps. December 2019: Preliminary Maps released: The Preliminary Maps were scheduled for release on Dec. 27. Public workshops will follow. January 2020: FEMA holds a series of public meetings in early-mid-January 2020 to discuss the Preliminary Maps. January-June 2020: FEMA expects to publish a notice in the Federal Register to begin the official 90-day map appeal period. The Federal Register notice could appear as early as January, but most likely not until May or June. The notice must also be accompanied by two local newspaper announcements. Fall 2020: Most likely in September 2020 the appeal period will close. Appeals with all accompanying technical and scientific data must be submitted through local governments. Early 2021: Most likely in early 2021, after all appeals are resolved, FEMA will issue a letter of final determination commencing a six-month period for communities to adopt the new flood maps. New maps effective mid-late 2021

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FEMA floodmap open house schedule set

The Monroe County and communities open houses for the public have been set for the last week in January 2020. Monroe County residents can attend whichever open house meeting is most convenient. January 27, 2020, 4 pm – 7 pm – Key West City Hall (Commission Chambers), 1300 White St., Key West January 28, 2020, 9 am – 12 pm – Bernstein Park Community Room, 6751 5th St., Stock Island January 28, 2020, 4 pm – 7 pm – Big Pine Park Community Room, 31009 Atlantis Dr., Big Pine Key January 29, 2020, 4 pm – 7 pm – Marathon City Hall, 9805 Overseas Hwy., Marathon January 30, 2020, 9 am – 12 pm – Islamorada Community Center at Founders Park, 87000 Overseas Highway, Islmorada January 30, 2020, 4 pm – 7 pm – Nelson Government Center-BOCC Chambers, 102050 Overseas Hwy., Key Largo At the open houses residents will receive 1-on-1 property specific support about: Property Lookup Insurance Letters of Map Change Appeals & Comments Engineering Study Community Assistance State of Florida

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What is the 50 percent rule? Does it affect my property?

Under the terms of the so-called “50 percent rule,” structures sustaining 50 percent or more of their pre-disaster, fair market value are treated as new structures and must be repaired or rebuilt in accordance with current state and local ordinances that regulate new construction in the floodplain. Local government officials determine pre-disaster fair market values. Only the structure is considered when determining the fair market value. The land is not included. The 50 percent rule also applies to major renovations of existing structures — even if there is no damage. If a building or structure is found to be “substantially damaged” under the 50 percent rule, it must be brought into compliance with floodplain management regulations. That generally means the owner must decide whether to elevate a structure above expected flood levels, to add structural reinforcements to strengthen the building or to relocate or demolish the structure. And, sometimes you are required to complete all those steps. Property owners who have a flood insurance policy through the NFIP and a substantially damaged building (from flooding) in a SFHA may be able to use additional funds – known as Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) – from their flood insurance policy (up to $30,000) to help defray the costs of elevating, relocating, demolishing a structure, or flood proofing a non-residential structure. Contact your insurance agent: The rules and regulations that apply to federal flood insurance are complicated and your flood insurance specialist is best positioned to ensure you are appropriately covered.

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What is grandfathering as it applies to flood insurance?

At its simplest, grandfathering says you can keep the insurance you currently have under certain conditions. Grandfathering is a National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) rule that was created to recognize property owners who carried a policy before the maps became effective or built to the correct standards relative to the flood map in effect at the time of construction. (FIRM is shorthand for Flood Insurance Rate Map.) First, you need to understand these terms: pre-FIRM and post-FIRM Pre-FIRM (permitted before 1-1-1975) A pre-FIRM building is one that was constructed prior to the date of the community’s first FIRM. In most cases, owners of pre-FIRM buildings have just one opportunity to use the grandfathering rule: for the purchase an insurance policy before the updated FIRM (the new rate maps) becomes effective. The exception is a pre-FIRM building that is newly mapped into a high-risk area. If it qualifies for a preferred risk policy (PRP), the property owner has up to two years from the new map’s effective date to purchase a PRP tthat will grandfather in the lower risk zone for future rating. In either instance, to maintain the grandfathered zone, the policy must stay continuously in effect. Continuity of coverage can be maintained even if the building is sold, as the policy can be assigned to the new owner. A Post-FIRM building was built after the adoption of the community’s first flood insurance rate map, and after the floodplain was defined, and after the community adopted its floodplain ordinances. Those buildings have to play by a different set of rules. Especially when they are built in special flood hazard areas. Limitations and restrictions apply to Post–FIRM Elevated buildings in Special Flood Hazard Areas. Post-FIRM buildings have two chances to lock in the BFE and/or flood zone: before the maps become effective or after the effective date, but with the proper documentation. Continuous coverage is not required. If, however, a building is substantially damaged or improved or if it was not built in compliance, grandfathering of previous zones or BFEs can no longer be applied. Many property owners are finding that the draft flood maps released by FEMA in August 2019 have moved them into a higher risk flood zone. In Key West alone, over 2,000 properties may be moved from the X-zone where flood insurance is not required by lenders into a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) where insurance will be required.For certain property owners, FEMA offers the Grandfathering option. When flood map changes occur, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) provides a lower-cost flood insurance rating option known as “grandfathering.” It is available for property owners who: Already have flood insurance policies in effect when the new flood maps become effective and then maintain continuous coverage; or Have built in compliance with the FIRM in effect at the time of construction. While grandfathering typically will provide cost savings to a property owner when the new Federal Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) take effect, there may be cases when using the…

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Should I buy flood insurance now? Three examples

I have a mortgage, but don’t have flood insurance because my house is in an X-zone. Should I purchase insurance? Most experts recommend purchasing federal flood insurance before the new maps are in place sometime in 2021. The chances are your home will be re-mapped out of the X-zone and, with a mortgage, your lender likely will require insurance with your new designation. It will be less expensive to purchase the insurance now, when you are in the X-zone than after the new maps. “Grandfathering” may apply to existing flood insurance. (See our section on grandfathering. I do not have a mortgage and I do not have flood insurance. Should I purchase insurance? That is a financial decision best made independently between you and your insurance agent. However, it will be less expensive to purchase insurance now, when you are likely to be in a lower risk area, than when the new maps relocate you to a higher-risk zone. I have a mortgage. I have flood insurance based on my current flood zone. The new maps move me to a higher-risk zone. Will I have to pay the rates of the higher-risk zone? Your current insurance plan will remain in effect if all the following are true: your insurance is in place before the new maps are implemented; AND, if you maintain consistent coverage; AND, if you do not make improvements or repairs valued at 50 percent or more of the market improvement value. The market improvement value includes only the value of the structure. It does not include the value of the land. Contact your insurance agent: The rules and regulations that apply to federal flood insurance are complicated and your flood insurance specialist is best positioned to ensure you are appropriately covered.

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My house didn’t move. Why did my elevation change?

Your flood map designation includes ratings from at least the following data: Base Flood Elevation; LiMWA or Limit of Moderate Wave Action; and SWEL, or Stillwater Flood Elevation. All of these go into determining your flood zone designation. One of the confusing pieces of the new flood maps is that your flood zone designation may remain the same, BUT your Base Flood Elevation increased – and that could mean higher insurance rates. Your house didn’t move. All of these changes will likely affect whether you will be required to purchase flood insurance and the premium rates you will pay. The changes in what is called “datum” are occurring to ensure more accurate elevation measurements. The current system is NGVD 29, which stands for National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929. FEMA provided this helpful graphic at the Floodmap Open Houses that helps to explain the change. It is a system that has been used by surveyors and engineers for most of the 20th Century. It has been the basis for relating ground and flood elevations. But it has been replaced by the more-accurate North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD 88). Your home’s flood plain designation is now based on NAVD88. The average, Base Flood Elevation increase around the county due to the change in datum is about 1.5 feet. Existing home elevation certificates are still valid, but may use NGVD 29 measurements. To compare an existing elevation certificate to the new flood maps requires a conversion of the old elevation data to NAVD 88. You can learn more about these data changes: https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/20130726-1755-25045-0634/ngvd_navd.pdf

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What is the National Flood Insurance Program?

In 1968, the National Flood Insurance Act created the Federal Insurance Administration and made flood insurance available for the first time to homeowners and businesses. In 1973, Congress made the purchase of flood insurance mandatory for the protection of property located in Special Flood Hazard Areas. The original legislation made providing federal flood insurance a priority for “residential properties which are designed for the occupancy of from one to four families, church properties and business properties which are owned or leased and operated by small business concerns.” It gave the director the authority to determine if federal flood insurance could or would be extended to other types of properties. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The 1968 legislation set three areas of responsibility for the Federal Insurance Administration: o Provide flood insurance o Improve flood plain management o Develop maps of flood hazard areas Authorization of and funding for the NFIP must be done by Congress. Congress can choose to authorize the NFIP for any period of time. Authorization has been extended at least 14 times since September 2017. The NFIP is currently reauthorized through September 30, 2020. Congress has chosen to extend authorization of NFIP in limited increments as work progresses on a re-write of the National Flood Insurance Act or replacement legislation. There is no indication when that work might be completed. Despite the lack of new legislation, FEMA continues, through the NFIP, to provide flood insurance, work on flood plain management and develop new flood maps.

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Why do I need an elevation certificate?

If you have a current elevation certificate, you will not need to obtain a new one when the new maps are in place. The existing elevation certificate will be acceptable UNLESS there was a physical change to the building or the land adjacent to the building. If there were a change, a Correction Memo can correct the change in flood zone or BFE without affecting the original certification. This updated data is valid for National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policies, Community Rating System (CRS) discounts, and insurance purposes and must be utilized by the insurance companies to write the policies. Existing home elevation certificates while still valid may use NGVD 29 measurements. To compare an existing elevation certificate to the new flood maps requires a conversion of the old elevation data to NAVD 88. If your home is pre-FIRM (Flood Insurance Rate Maps) and permitted prior to Jan. 1, 1975, your flood insurance premiums are most likely based on subsidized rates. That means you are not currently paying rates that are based where your lowest floor is in comparison to base flood elevation for your area. The federal flood insurance program is phasing out subsidized rates and increasing these premiums annually to reach actuary rates. By getting an elevation certificate you will know what your actuary rate will be and when these premium increases will stop. How do I get an elevation certificate? Your property may already have an elevation certificate. The City of Key West has existing elevation certificates on line. The Monroe County floodplain management department also has some elevation certificates on file. You might also find your certificate in your mortgage closing documents. If you do not have or cannot locate an elevation certificate, you may contract locally to have one done. The cost is about $500, depending on the size of your property. If you join FIRM and contribute $100 or more, you will receive a $100 credit toward a residential elevation certificate from Reece and Associates. A donation of $500 or more earns a discount toward a commercial elevation certificate. Please contact FIRM for additional at info@firmkeys.org.

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Call FIRM today at 305-294-FIRM or email info@firmkeys.org

Join FIRM today and make a donation of $100 or more, you will receive a $100 credit toward a residential elevation certificate from Reece and Associates.  A donation of $500 or more earns a discount toward a commercial elevation certificate.